Category Archives: Homeschooling

Weekly Wrap-Up: Physicists

We’re continuing to learn about physics, splitting out time between physics and physicists. Mr. Curiosity finished How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog and found it hilarious, and full of good physics ideas. Now he knows all about about evil squirrels and bunnies made of cheese. I’ve also had the kids learn about physicists, and here’s the books we’ve used.

I found a graphic novel of Richard Feynman called, appropriately enough Feynman by Jim Ottaviani. The book covers Feynman’s whole life, jumping back and forth to different periods of his life. It’s definitely targeted toward an older crowd. For one thing, there’s the physics and tricky mathematical equations mentioned. For the other, the pages are pretty dense with blocks of talking heads and little action showing on the page. Feynman was an interesting physicist who certainly had a way with words, but it’s not like he did exciting-looking activities.

The other book I found is Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World by Rachel Swaby. It covers women who made significant contributions in medicine, biology, genetics, physics, geology, astronomy, math, and as inventors. Within each category, the scientists are presented in chronological order. The author devotes three or four pages to each scientist and her breakthrough research, often discussing how the woman had to fight against discrimination to get her voice heard. Miss Adventure is enjoying reading this one. The books reminds people that women have been involved in science just as much as men, even if our achievements are often ignored or co-opted.

And those are the books we used for physics this week. Linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Science Overview Books

My daughter’s gymnastics team is hosting a meet this weekend (Stars and Stripes, a big meet with 1800+ competitors over four days), so I’ve been busy at the convention center all weekend. Team parents are expected to work a couple of sessions to help the whole thing run smoothly. I still have time to review a couple of books, though. I found two interesting science books I want to talk about today:

Let me start with the more general book, The Science Book (Big Ideas Simply Explained) published by DK. DK does some great overview books, so I’m not surprised they are the publisher. This also seems to be one of a series of books focusing on big ideas simply explained (I need to get The Politics Book next for Mr. Curiosity). The book is organized chronologically and for each major scientific breakthrough, you see the chain of observations that lead to the conclusion, what people thought before and after the breakthrough, a biography about the scientist, and some explanatory information. The book has great graphics and is designed for minimal scientific knowledge. It certainly would be an asset to a homeschooling library.

The second book is BODY: A Graphic Guide to Us by Steve Parker and Andrew Baker. As you would expect from the name, each page is a large graphic about a part of the body. The book walks you through the different organ systems and explains how they work with simple graphics. I would just flip open to a page and immediately be drawn into fascinating little details about the body. Miss Adventure spent the entire drive home from the library going, “huh” and then having to read me some tidbit. Be aware that this was published in the UK, so there are some alternate spellings (oesophagus, for example) and the measurements are all in metric.

And those are the new books we flipped through in school this week. Joining up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Explorers

With a new month, we start a new topic. I decided we should learn a bit about explorers. We’ve done this topic before, but there are so many explorers, I figured we’d be able to find something new to study. We’re still starting with So You Want to Be an Explorer? by Judith St. George. The book provides an overview of many explorers from different time periods. There’s not a lot of detail, but it’s a good place to start to find someone you’re interested in.

Another overview book is DK Eyewitness Books: Explorer by Rupert Matthews. This book focuses more on why exploration occurred, moving through the ages. It doesn’t name too many explorers, but it does provide maps of some of the major exploration routes.

If you just want information on European exploration, try The World Made New by Marc Aronson and John W. Glenn. The subtitle lays out what the book is about “Why the age of exploration happened and how it changed the world.”

And finally, if you want more detail about some explorers, try Explorers Who Got Lost by Diane Sansevere-Drehel. This book focuses on explorers who accidentally made big discoveries. The author provides some in-depth descriptions of the lives of the explorers, and their discoveries.

And those were the books we used this week. Linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly-Wrap-UpIf you’re interested in purchasing the books, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Native American Mythology

Every year we’ve homeschooled, the kids (and I!) have learned about some traditional mythology. We started with the basics (Greek and Roman) and have slowly been expanding into different pantheons. This year, I decided to stick close to home and do some Native American mythology. This involved reading different myths, and then writing up either about different deities (My. Curiosity used Godchecker.com as his starting point) or constellations (in Miss Adventure’s case). Since they had a different focus, each kid used a different book.

Mr. Curiosity mostly read from American Indian Myths and Legends, selected and edited by Richard Erdoes and Alfonso Ortiz. This is a fat book (527 pages long) organized based on the subject of the myth (like creation myths or trickster myths) and then labeled based on which tribe told the story.

Miss Adventure, on the other hand, was all about Stars of the First People: Native American Star Myths and Constellations by Dorcas S. Miller. This was another adult-oriented book. In this case, it was organized based on region, then tribe, and then told the stories of different constellations and what those tribes saw in the sky or named different features (like the Milky Way or the Morning Star).

If you’re looking for something written for kids, try either The Woman Who Lived with Wolves: & Other Stories from the Tipi or The Boy & His Mud Horses: & Other Stories from the Tipi, both written and illustrated by Paul Goble. These are two-page versions of the myths, with illustrations on each page. He focuses on myths of Western tribes.

And those were the books we used this month. Linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’ Weekly Wrap-Up

Weekly-Wrap-UpIf you’re interested in purchasing the books, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Learning to Watercolor

I thought we’d spend the last two weeks of summer slowly ramping up our homeschooling. That meant I needed a topic we could cover in a few short weeks. I settled on doing some art, and saw a new how-to watercolor book sitting out front at the library and had our topic.

The book I found was simply called Watercolors (Paint It) by Mari Bolte. The book covers a surprising amount of information in 31 pages, and is meant for kids. It starts with basic information about watercolors and the materials you need to create watercolor paintings. The book provides a few specific projects that you can copy using a variety of techniques to create the images. It’s a nice place to start if you don’t know anything about using watercolors. I want to check out her other books as well, Acrylics (Paint It), and Pastels (Paint It).

The other basic book I found was Watercolor 101: Techniques for the Absolute Beginner by Jeanette Robertson. Again, the book starts with materials and basic techniques for putting paint on paper. There are several projects to copy with details on what makes a good painting vs. a boring painting.

Miss Adventure had fun with books, although we’ve discovered we need better paints. Mr. Curiosity has a hard time getting watercolors to produce his mental image, so he’s decided watercolors are not for him. That’s why we’ll have to try the acrylics or pastels book soon.

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: American History Club Presentations

American History Club was this week. It was our third session on westward expansion, which means it’s time for the kids to choose their own topic. When we were discussing potential topics, I realized how much of westward expansion we didn’t cover. Perhaps we’ll have to cover the topic in another year.

Mr. Curiosity decided he wanted to write about the Transcontinental Railroad. There were several giant (500+ page) books of adult nonfiction available, but that was a bit overwhelming for my tween. Instead, we found The Transcontinental Railroad In American History by R. Conrad Stein to be very helpful. At 128 pages, it nicely straddled that line between “just a quick overview” and “way too much detail”. The book includes everything from why the railroad was built to the Union and Central Pacific Railroads, to some of its impact on the development of the U.S. There’s also quite a few historical photos and documents from that time period.

Miss Adventure decided she wanted to talk about the California Gold Rush. Again, it was tough to find books that enough depth, but weren’t overwhelming. The California Gold Rush by Jean F. Blashfield provided a quick overview to the events surrounding the gold rush. The Great American Gold Rush by Rhoda Blumberg had a lot more detail, especially about the different routes used to travel to the gold fields of California.

And finally, a fun book: Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity by Margaret Peot. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, you’ll be able to make some interesting images using the techniques spelled out in this book. All you need is some ink (bonus if you have colors) and some paper (different types of paper provide different final products). The author walks you through several different processes to make inkblot images, and then, if you want to take it further, a couple of ways to modify your images. Looks like great fun, although perhaps a bit messy, for everyone to try out.

And those were the new books we used in homeschooling this week. Linking up with Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Weekly-Wrap-UpIf you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Norse Mythology Unit Study

We didn’t really read anything new this week. Instead, we finished up our study of Norse mythology. Every year, we pick a new world mythology to study. We’ve done the major ones (Greek and Roman) and now have to pick from many of the other world religions. This year was any easy choice – Rick Riordan had a new book out that covered Norse mythology. It’s set in the same world as Percy Jackson, which we have loved, so we knew we had to read the books. We got a great introduction to the bones of Norse mythology by reading Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer. We can’t wait until the next book comes out, but that won’t be until next year. There are many other YA and middle grade novels that utilize Norse mythology as the core to the story. I’d recommend reading Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants. Gaiman is a great storyteller, and this is no exception, as we follow Odd in a quest to get the Frost Giants out of Asgard so winter will finally end.

Once we got a taste of Norse mythology, I wanted the kids to read some of the Norse myths. Now, you can go right to the source and read the The Poetic Edda or The Prose Edda. I didn’t think the kids were quite up for that, so we read some of the myths, edited for children. There’s a lot less blood and violence in the children’s versions, but Norse mythology really isn’t ideal for the sensitive child. We found two different books of myths in the library, which had a slightly different collection of myths – Odin’s Family, edited by Neil Philip, and Favorite Norse Myths edited by Mary Pope Osborne.

Whenever we study a new mythology, all the new gods and goddesses get confusing. Norse mythology is even more confusing since there are nine worlds in which characters can live. To get more information on the different individuals in the pantheon, we used the website godchecker.com. This website has information on almost 30 different pantheons, so we’ll be making use of it in future unit studies as well. They don’t provide too much in-depth information about the different deities, but it’s an informative overview, usually written in a humorous style, that provides enough information for you to find out more if you want it.

Overall, we’ve enjoyed our study of the Norse deities. I’m thinking we might have to watch the first Thor movie as our end of the topic review and see how many of the deities the kids recognize from their studies.

Linking up with the Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers weekly wrap-up.

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If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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